A Spanish police operation against several footballers, ex-players and club executives, including the former Real Madrid and Spain international Raul Bravo, all suspected of being involved in fixing matches in the first and second divisions, has taken place in Spain this week.
In a statement, police said they had conducted raids in several unnamed areas, and planned to detain 11 people – ‘retired and active footballers in the first division, active players in the second division and executives of a club’.
It is understood that a second division match between Huesca and Club Gimnàstic de Tarragona – known as Nàstic – was the origin of the investigation. A statement from La Liga said it had made an initial complaint in May 2018 about the match.
Another one of the games under investigation was played between Real Valladolid and Valencia on the last day of this season, which saw Valencia qualify for the Champions League. However, no-one connected with the Valencia club was under investigation.
Among those arrested is also Borja Fernández, a Valladolid player who retired from professional play after the game against Valencia, and also Carlos Aranda, a retired player who appeared for a string of Spanish clubs.
The suspects are accused of match-fixing, belonging to a criminal gang and money laundering, police said.
The police added that their months-long investigation had ‘confirmed that the suspects reached agreements with various players to “fix” at least three matches in the first, second and third division.’
‘The match-fixing related to the third division was unsuccessful, forcing the players involved to compensate the loss by doing another in the future,’ they added.
In a statement, Valladolid said it maintained ‘its commitment and fight against corruption or any type of illegal act that diminishes the integrity of sporting competitions.’
Match-fixing has been a constant issue in Spanish football. In February 2018, at least 24 people were arrested nationwide in an operation into alleged match-fixing in Spain’s lower leagues.
The ring was accused of using players to force situations such as corners or penalties in games in the third and fourth tiers of Spanish football. They would then make bets on these situations.
The conspirators under investigation had connections with China, where the bets were placed.
Match-fixing in Spain has also hit other sports like tennis.
In January, Spanish police dismantled a gang that allegedly rigged professional tennis matches, detaining 15 people and probing dozens of others including a player who competed in last year’s US Open.
The gang allegedly bribed tennis players to fix matches in ITF Futures and Challenger tournaments, the lower levels of the professional game where younger players start out before reaching the ATP and WTA Tours.